MSI 645E Max2-LRU SiS 645DX Motherboard Review
By Vince Freeman
May 13, 2002
The initial SiS 645 was like a breath of fresh air for Pentium 4 motherboard buyers. This chipset included the option of DDR333 performance, along with hitting some incredibly low price points. Many of those interested in SiS 645 motherboards were surprised, and sometimes wary, at how inexpensive some of the boards were, especially compared to their excellent feature set and positive reviews. One in particular that garnered a lot of attention was the MSI 645 ULTRA, which checked in at a retail price that had it flying off the shelves.
The SiS chipset has since been updated to the 645DX version, which adds in support for the Pentium 4's 533 MHz front-side bus (FSB). Other enhancements include ATA-133 support and other features through an updated SiS961B Southbridge. The SiS 645DX looks to be a perfect marriage of performance, features and cost, and has turned into a favorite Intel platform for both the performance and overclocking crowds.
MSI has also been quick to release a 645DX motherboard, and their 645E Max2 (MS-6567) line comes in a few different flavors. The basic 645E Max2 design is similar to their previous 645 ULTRA and includes all the basic features of the 645DX. The 645E Max2-L adds in a LAN (RJ-45) jack, while the impressive 645E Max2-LRU includes LAN, USB 2.0 and ATA-133 RAID functions as well. The fully-featured 645E Max2-LRU is the motherboard we will be taking a look at in this review, but due to the incredibly similar design, potential 645E Max2 and 645E Max2-L buyers should also take note.
MSI is renowned for their low-priced motherboards, making the company a favorite of budget-oriented buyers. This doesn't mean that quality or features suffer, as MSI only takes a back seat to a handful of vendors when it comes to performance and overclocking options. The higher-end RAID and USB 2.0 editions also offer a bit more power for the enthusiast buyer, but still at a price that usually undercuts the competition.
The 645DX also looks to be a chipset tailor-made for MSI's product positioning, as it features a high-performance base, but combines this with a very low price. We will be running the MSI 645E Max2-LRU through our usual barrage of tests to determine if our initial thoughts mesh with the final product, and if MSI can really deliver on what should be a promising new motherboard.